The US Army Corps of Engineers has constructed a 10 acre demonstration wetland in Defiance, OH that will serve as a model for optimizing phosphorus retention and nonpoint source reduction in agricultural settings. Excess phosphorus (P) runoff in Great Lakes tributaries can contribute to the development of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) with potential to harm coastal ecosystems and local economies, and threaten human health.
Funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, this project is employing a novel approach to improving Great Lakes tributary water quality based on the construction of a wetland system in a location identified as having high potential to capture and retain phosphorus sorption capacity. An inter-agency project team from the US Army Corps of Engineers - Engineer Research and Development Center and the US Geological Survey has partnered to operate, research, and monitor the demonstration wetland. The wetland is designed to capture high tributary flows and associated legacy phosphorus loads and filter them through a series of treatment cells.
Construction was completed in the late winter of 2021, with monitoring, control, and field research planned to continue for five years. This project builds on several years of research on soil phosphorus storage capacity and will contribute to a better understanding of how phosphorus can be retained on the landscape and kept out of Great Lakes tributaries. The innovative project is being coordinated with federal partners, including USEPA, NRCS, and USGS, as well as partners at the state and local level, to share lessons learned and inform other wetland restoration project designs to maximize nutrient capture in the Western Lake Erie Basin